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Public Policy : Policy Information Last Updated: Sep 20th, 2006 - 15:00:11

U.S. Department of Education Issues Long-Awaited IDEA Regulations
By Jane West
Sep 20, 2006, 10:02

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On August 3, 2006 Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced the issuance of final regulations for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act reauthorization legislation that was enacted in December, 2004. These regulations appear in the August 14 edition of the Federal Register and can also be found on the Department’s website at www.ed.gov. The regulations become official 60 days after appearing in the Register – on October 14.

The regulations are preceded by a preamble analyzing over 5500 comments received in response to an invitation to respond to a Notice of Proposed Rule Making that was issued June 21, 2005. The regulations address only Part B of IDEA. Part C regulations, for the infants and toddlers programs, are still under development. In addition, regulations reflecting the interim guidance related to assessing up to 20% of special education students who are not likely to achieve grade level performance in the upcoming school year continue to be under development. (This are often referred to as the “2%”regulations since they may apply to up to 2% of the population of students.) Regulations for Part D, addressing the service obligation for higher education students supported by Part D funds, were issued earlier in the year.

Most comments that were submitted on the proposed regulations addressed three issues: highly qualified special education teachers, response to intervention and students with disabilities who were placed in private schools by their parents. Key provisions in the regulations in each of these areas are as follows:

Highly qualified special education teachers: States are authorized to develop a separate HOUSSE (high, objective, uniform state standard of evaluation) for special education teachers provided it does not establish a lower standard for content knowledge than is required for general education teachers. The NEA was pleased with this new HOUSSE provision. The “highly qualified” special education requirement does not apply to special education teachers in private schools, even if public funds are paying the student’s tuition. This provision was opposed by HECSE and other special education organizations.

Response to Intervention: A proposal in the draft regulations which would have prohibited the use of the “severe discrepancy” method of diagnosing learning disabilities was removed. Some learning disabilities organizations, such as LDA, were pleased with this noting that the RTI method needs further study before it should be required.

Special education students placed in private schools: School districts are responsible for providing special education services to students who are attending private school in that district, but who live in a different school district. The Council of Great City Schools, among others, was disappointed with this provision which was requested by private schools who thought it would make it easier for their students to obtain special education services.

Model forms for IEPS, procedural safeguards notices and prior written notices were also issued as a part of the regulations. They are available in an appendix to the regulations, which is also on the Department’s website at http://www.ed.gov/IDEA.

Assistant Secretary for OSERS, John Hager, announced that the Department will be providing a range of technical assistance opportunities including community based meetings and regional meetings around the country. OSERS is also developing a curriculum that can be used to train providers, parents, advocates and other stakeholders on the regulations.

© Copyright 2006 HECSE

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